Boy with autism finds unlikely friendship with garbage truck driver

9-year-old Dima and his friend René Vesi (KPTV via CNN)

TROUTDALE, Ore. (KPTV) — A local family from Russia, who moved to Troutdale six years ago, was presented with challenges when they first immigrated.

They didn’t know any English, and their young son is autistic.

“We never noticed anything wrong with him until 2 years of age. We noticed he began to develop his own certain rituals,” Alla and Dmitry Kerdivara told FOX 12 through a translator. “We weren’t able to touch him, we weren’t able to hug him. He would just scream and throw fits.”

After years of trying to help 9-year-old Dima break out of his shell, their whole world began to look a little brighter when he made an unlikely friend – the garbage man.

Every Wednesday morning, Dima gets excited to wait outside for the garbage truck driver – but it wasn’t always that way.

Alla and Dmitry say their son was too shy to go outside at first, initially only waving back at the garbage man.

All it took was time, though, before Dima grew more confidence and began running outside to greet René Vesi.

“They were shocked because Dima wasn’t able to build any relationships with anybody. He was afraid of kids, he would run away from other kids. He wouldn’t speak to anybody,” Dima’s parents said through the translator.

Alla and Dmitry say their son requires structure, and trash day became a big part of his weekly ritual. It’s now one of his favorite activities.

“I got a moment when I spoke with the mom and dad, and they explained Dima is special, you know. They told me about autism,” said Vesi.

Vesi also speaks Russian. He immigrated from Estonia years ago.

“When you’re able to put a smile on somebody’s face, and make them happy – just do it,” he said.

“We feel like this whole story broke his wall of confinement,” said Dima’s parents. “René, he’s just a wonderful person and he showed us that the world is full of people who can help. Not everybody’s angry and bad in the world.”

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